Here is my interpretation of this Neo-Expressionist painting by Joe Boudreau:
As we progress thru our career, we are just another faceless icon – part of the crowd rising thru the corporate ladder’s dog-eat-dog culture. Those who play fetch better, think they can rise faster only to realize that it is just another kick in the face or the midriff….ouch!
So what eventually remains in this vast sea of blue, is a multitude of headless, torso-less bodies swimming in tandem trying to make sense of our existence, stoically waiting for the end.
But we do not lose hope! Although our ties may be wrinkled, and our shirts frayed, we will live our days to the fullest – for isn’t it true that all dogs go to heaven?
Neo-expressionism is a style of late-modernist or early-postmodern painting and sculpture that emerged in the late 1970s. Neo-expressionists were sometimes called Neue Wilden (‘The new wild ones’; ‘New Fauves’ would better meet the meaning of the term). It is characterized by intense subjectivity and rough handling of materials.
Modern art as whole, including the New York School, is a reaction against the stressful conditions of life in this century, war, the breakdown of social and religious traditions, the disruption of ethics and values caused by too rapid change beyond the ability of human beings to cope.
Science, with concepts of relativity shattering the human need for absolutes, and science’s instrument, the machine, were elevated to the position once occupied by religious belief. The confusion and disillusionment resulting from the ascendancy and failure of the new, mechanized god to create a more fulfilling world — indeed, making it possible for World War I to be a bigger and better war — left humanity and its artists struggling with an impossible situation. Twentieth Century man has never recovered from the shock of that first cataclysm and ensuing ordeals culminating in the present, fear-filled nuclear debate.
Abstraction, whether of the expressionist or geometric variety, is a turning inward toward an emotional, mystical or cerebral ideal in attempted escape from our disruptive, tormenting world. One of the prime motivations in the abstraction of Kandinsky and Mondrian, though by diametrically opposed means, was their search for an inner spiritual reality that would offer meaning, hope and respite from a world of excessive materialism and unbearable crisis.
While this is understandable in human terms, it nonetheless severed ties with the outer world, the world of people and nature which sustains all of us in obvious physical and less apparent spiritual ways. Thus, this critical severance early in the century was like the cutting of the roots of a vine, which, as time passed, slowly perished for want of nourishment.
This is the predicament of the New York School and most art of the last forty years. Trying to live on the air of theory, without roots in the earth of human experience, it withered; the “tradition” of modern art died.
Joe Boudreau’s signature works show the influence of both the New York School, and Neo-expressionism. They are also defined by the recurring use of specific images. Boudreau has named some of these images as the “suit guy,” an everyman, the “necklace,” communicating tension, and the “black kidney” with the “fishhook,” a contrasting and overlaying element. Other recurring images in his works are bright halo-like ellipses, and dogs.